Review by Booklist Review
Most Civil War buffs are aware that Lincoln came under Confederate fire, and this work presents all the details they could wish to learn about the incident. It occurred in July 1864, when the president traveled to one of Washington's forts to see the combat that erupted when a Confederate force attacked. To prepare his readers for the narrative of the battle that Lincoln witnessed, Cooling describes the military preliminaries, which began with General Robert E. Lee's dispatching a force to threaten Washington. Recounting its progress under its commander, Jubal Early, Cooling runs through its march through Maryland, victory at the Battle of Monocacy, and approach toward the defenses of the federal capital. Noting the anxieties Early provoked among government leaders, Cooling recounts the reinforcements they summoned and the battle that occurred at Fort Stevens before delving into such questions as the precise location from which Lincoln observed the proceedings. After balancing witnesses' recollections, Cooling describes the postwar memorialization of the battle site, which can be visited today indeed, battlefield tourists will be Cooling's best customers.--Taylor, Gilbert Copyright 2010 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
In July 1864, President Lincoln visited a besieged fort on the edge of the nation's capital and, according to Cooling (coauthor of Mr. Lincoln's Forts), put his life-and along with it, the emancipatory goal of the war-at risk. It's old news that Lincoln walked away without a scratch (though he was dead nine months later), but this is nevertheless a fresh history. Cooling sets the stage by explaining Washington, D.C.'s importance in the war, as well as the Union's struggles with a surging Rebel offensive and Lincoln's surprising level of engagement with his army. Confederate leaders saw an attack on Fort Stevens as a critical step toward capturing the capital, and they recruited tough troops for the task. But Lincoln shored up the resistance, and toured the fort on two days, despite the fact that his towering frame made an easy target for sharpshooters. While Cooling makes much of what might have happened to the war effort had Lincoln been wounded or killed, he spends most of his time speculating as to why he was there in the first place, and what his presence says about his role as president and commander-in-chief. This is a detailed and skilled account of a faded chapter in the annals of Civil War history that should not be ignored. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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